The phrase technology in education will someday be a quaint artifact. We no longer think about ATMs as technology in banking -- they are banking. When educators stop thinking about technology as something they have to do distinct from education, we'll know that true integration has been achieved. Until then...
My Little World benefited from my school's -- Evergreen Valley High School -- committment to technology and professional development. The first step to true integration is access to computers and the web in the classroom. My classroom, like many of the classrooms in my school, has a 30-computer laptop cart and access to a wireless network. I also had access to three digital camcorders. This allowed me to make technology an intergral part of our activities, not some special hey-kids-let's-put-on-a-PowerPoint affair.
We used technology in four ways: Create content, take assessments, gather information, and communicate. During the school year, the students produced three or four digital movies (depending on their ambition), countless PowerPoint presentations, documents, art, web sites and so on. We used the web to research and learned about infoliteracy*. We also took assessments and expressed opinions using tools like www.quia.com.
But beyond this, what was most important to me was the way we used technology to communicate and collaborate. We used Yahoo Groups extensively, setting up a community for students and also for their parents (for both: ID: groupguest411; password: visitor). I set up a daily homework email that was sent to the students and their parents. The email covered both my class and the other core classes: Math, English and Science -- we were structured so that all my students had the same teachers for these classes. It worked so well I started a company called School Loop. Check out a copy of the homework email. School Loop will pilot this fall in three high schools including the one where I work.
In addition to using Yahoo to create collaborative networks and projects like My Little World, we also used the web to connect with people in other places. I teach International Relations so what better idea than to help people relate! I had a room with no windows. So we decided to make a one out of photos of the view outside the windows of people from all over the world. The project was called Outside My Window and was a finalist in the U.S. State Department's Doors to Diplomacy contest. The site has had over 4000 visitors and recieved photos from over 100 people.
EVHS had an extensive commitment to professional development on the technology front, and I was happy to help, running two training sessions on collaborative tools, and co-hosting two on PowerPoint. I am fortunate to work in school with a solid dedication to technology and a talented, motivate staff.
*Here's material for a dramatic lesson on how newspaper editors affect opinion. These articles on Tom Ridge ran in the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times on the same day. Without telling the class, give half one article and half the other (best if you can easily note who got which article), and have them read them. After a few minutes, ask them some questions about Tom Ridge and how he's doing in his job, and record their answers split by the article they got. Now look at the byline: The article itself is identical, written by a NY Times reporter and picked up by the Chronicle! The only difference is that the Chronicle rewrote the headline to be more critical and changed the photo to make Ridge a less sympathic character. I posted a [big! 9mb] .pdf of these articles for you to use, or you can find other examples.